VSF is pleased to present A Concept is a Brick, a group exhibition curated by Joshua Nathanson and Anthony Salvador that brings together new work by Lizette Hernandez, Ravi Jackson, and Thalia Rodgers. In order to address their origin stories, intellectual pursuits, and personal histories, these artists have dispensed with easy answers and traditional boundaries. Each practices a type of expressionism that borrows freely from both within and without the traditional forms of Modernism—transforming the mundane into a sacred act of visibility. By combining formal rigor with lighthearted gestures, these works offer promise in the face of a cynical world.
Inheritance and regeneration are common themes found in the ceramic sculptures of Lizette Hernandez. A large component of her practice stems from topics such as cultural practices, community, and oral histories about migration and survival. In particular, Hernandez references and questions belief systems to try to understand the relationship migrant communities from Latin America have with worship. The clay functions not only as a material that speaks to her personal relationship with nature and memory but also as a vehicle to examine what a ‘sacred’ object can be.
Ravi Jackson cuts across visual boundaries, merging together provocative painterly palettes with phallic symbols and protrusions, found imagery, text, and ephemera. In one work, a large colorfully-painted plywood panel leans against a wall, its central image featuring the cover artwork of Lil’ Kim’s first album, Hardcore. In another smaller wall work, a delicately hanging pleather sheet is cut to reveal the eyes of Kurt Russell, a still-life from the movie Tombstone where he plays Wyatt Earp. For Jackson, these images function as emblems of white masculinity (Kurt/Earp) and black sexuality (Lil’ Kim), while the scented candles, incense, Hanna Hur’s scented chainmail, hinges, and turned wooden armatures all suggest practical function and material engagement. Ultimately Jackson disengages the elements from their practical and rhetorical uses to form a painterly anthropological language.
Using rough-cut canvas shapes, built-up layers of acrylic, tempera, photo collage, and found materials, Thalia Rodgers' paintings often question their very structure. In a new painting whose shape is emblematic of an inverted Nebraska, Rodgers ruminates on the pleasantries of sweet escape. Anchored by a large sun, seemingly disconnected forms and colors begin to meld together to create a psychedelic landscape—like a vestige of a recent dream. Further exploring the malleability of material engagement, Rodgers takes regular items and turns them into different versions of themselves. Using repurposed photographs, collage, and watercolors to create unique, singular objects, Rodger’s work evokes and mirrors a more personal examination, contemplating the many sides of their non-binary gender.
Lizette Hernandez (b. 1992, Los Angeles, California) uses clay as a mode to investigate sacred objects and highlight the connections between spiritual ideologies, survival, and nature. She received her BA from the University of California, Los Angeles (2019). Her work has been included in exhibitions at Tlaloc, Los Angeles; Human Resources, Los Angeles; and The Pit, Los Angeles.
Ravi Jackson (b. 1985, Santa Barbara, California) uses imagery and text from pop culture, assemblage, and craft in a manner that addresses race, sex, and toxic masculinity. He received his BA from Oberlin College (2007), a BFA from Hunter College (2012), and an MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles (2013). His work was recently included in exhibitions at David Lewis Gallery, New York; Matthew Marks, Los Angeles and PAGE(NYC) at Petzel, New York.
Thalia Rodgers (b. 1995, Lincoln, Nebraska) uses painting, collage, sculpture, performance, and music to tell stories that are at once conceptual, personal, and a commentary on our shared experiences and identities. They received their BFA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (2019). Rodgers was recently the subject of their first solo exhibition at The Union for Contemporary Art, Omaha, Nebraska (2020).